ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC has questioned the tactical approach adopted by Rafael Benitez in the Championship last season, and claimed he finds playing with Fulham much more enjoyable than lining up for the Magpies.

Mitrovic has been an instant success at Craven Cottage, with his goal in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Derby County making it three goals in as many games following his January loan move from Tyneside.

The Serbia international was a much more peripheral figure as Newcastle won the Championship title last season, with Benitez restricting him to just 11 league starts in the whole of the campaign.

The Newcastle boss was critical of Mitrovic’s work rate on occasion, and clearly felt the striker struggled to fit in to the tactics he was attempting to employ.

Those tactics resulted in the Magpies lifting the Championship title, but Mitrovic does not feel they played to his strengths. Instead, he is relishing the freedom he is currently being afforded as he leads the Fulham line, with Cottagers boss Slavisa Jokanovic keen to adopt an adventurous, free-flowing approach.

“It’s a different style we play here,” said Mitrovic, who has helped Fulham into the heart of the play-off picture in recent weeks. “The players enjoy the football more than last season with Newcaste, where we knew how we wanted to play.

“We always played on the results (at Newcastle) – that’s it. (At Fulham), we always try to score more goals than the opponent – Newcastle was more tactically (set up).

“We didn’t play as much attacking football as we play now. Obviously, it worked because Newcastle were promoted last season. I hope we are promoted again with Fulham.”

Mitrovic had been close to re-joining Belgian club Anderlecht on transfer-deadline day, only for a proposed season-long loan to collapse when the Jupiler League side were unable to meet Newcastle’s financial demands.

That led to Middlesbrough entering the picture, and Mitrovic had been due to undergo a medical ahead of a switch to Teesside before a last-minute change of plans led to a dramatic late dash to London.

He signed terms with Fulham shortly before the transfer window closed, and is clearly relishing the opportunity to play himself into form ahead of a potential call-up for Serbia for this summer’s World Cup finals.

Benitez clearly feels he was not up to the challenge of scoring goals in the Premier League, as he did not make a single league start prior to leaving St James’ Park in January.

In fairness to the Newcastle boss, there is a world of difference between scoring regularly in the Championship and making a sustained impact in the Premier League, but Mitrovic’s fine recent run has nevertheless enabled him to make a point at a time when the Magpies’ own January signing, Islam Slimani, is still to make his debut because of a thigh injury.

“Last season, I really followed Fulham,” said Mitrovic. “They were the best team to watch in the Championship – we are continuing like this. I really enjoy it, and I want to help my team-mates get promoted this season.

“That’s the reason why I came here – the style, the players, always attacking, always trying to score one more than your opponents, always with a lot of possession.”

* Newcastle’s Under-23s take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light tomorrow night in the quarter-finals of the Premier League International Cup. Kick-off is at 7pm, and the winners will host reigning champions, Porto, in the semi-finals.